Please play the youtube song while you read this post. It is the soundtrack to this Roman adventure!!
To quote the musical with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and inspired by the antics of playwright Plautus (251-183 BC), a funny thing did happen to me on the way to the forum.
(Incidentally, I’ve always wanted to use that line, but it had to be authentic.)
I was in Rome, Italy, following a Monastic Writing Workshop in Orvieto — more on that later. And I was on my way to the Colosseum and the ancient Forum where Julius Caesar walked, ruled, and is buried.
There was an unusually large number of policeman and military milling about, at least it appeared larger than normal, helicopters circling overhead, and there had been a train strike the previous day. Traffic was halted along the del fori imperiali and a parade of Italians began, bearing their red, white, and green flags.
As best I could decipher, it was a labor issue and the Sindaco di Roma – Mayor of Rome — Ignazio Marino, with a Pinocchio nose had become their main focus. Apparently, he had misrepresented himself to the voters, and now refused to negotiate with the labor unions. Imagine that!
The demonstration was well-ordered, only becoming ‘unruly’ when staging a shot with the photographer who had run into the street and asked for some action. To make sure he captured them in an angry run, they were happy to back up and do it again.
Small flat-bed trucks hauled additional protesters and the roadside was lined with loud speakers as they shouted, “Basta Marino.” The occasional blast of an air horn being conducted through the speakers for magnification of sound could be heard, while some kind of machine generated green smoke.
So where is the funny part?
It was what happened next. The theme song for this demonstration was one I knew and could sing along with them, which I did. “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones. And yes, they sang it in English!
For a moment I just sang without thinking about it. Then it dawned on me. I was in Italy. This was an Italian labor march about an Italian work force issue. And their theme song was in English!
I wanted to call people and let them hear it — experience it — with me. But it was 11:00 a.m. in Rome so it was 5:00 a.m. at home. Oh well, I’d just have to laugh to myself and capture as much in my memory as possible while singing along.
Have you ever experienced something in another town or city that you just couldn’t wait to share with others?